Responsibility or Entitlement?

Responsibility or Entitlement?

children working in the homeRachel Allison

Last week I spoke to a very frustrated new mother.  She wasn’t frustrated with her new baby.  She was frustrated with the 7 and 13 year-old boys who now call her Mom.  She and their father married a month ago.  She grew to love these boys during the dating and courting process.  The frustration? They have not been taught self-reliance.

Neither their biological mom nor dad ever taught them to clean up after themselves.  They eat and drink on the furniture as they watch television.  Plates, crumbs, and spilled soda are often left on the couch for someone else to clean up.

Their dirty laundry is left anywhere and everywhere.  Doing dishes and vacuuming has never been one of their job descriptions. Neither is taking out the trash, making their beds, or cleaning the bathroom.

I, of course, strongly suggested she have a major “family council meeting” to set down rules that would help fix this dysfunctional home life.  This new bride is young, but her response showed a lot of wisdom.

“One small step at a time,” she responded.  “If I demand everything change immediately, I’ll be known as their new wicked stepmother.  It may take a year or two of small changes to help these neglected boys learn what is appropriate family behavior and responsibility….We’ll get there….one step at a time.”

And she’s absolutely right in her thought processes.

What causes parents to NOT teach their children responsibility and a strong work ethic?

Some responses:

1.  “It’s just easier to clean up after them myself.”

2.  “A clean and well-ordered home is not a priority.”

3.  “Our housekeeper will take care of it when she comes to clean.”

4.  “We’re just  too busy to take on the responsibility of teaching them to work right now.  They’ll learn sometime.”

5.  “Let children be children…they will HAVE to work when they become adults.”

These are some of the responses that I have heard over the years.  I’m sure there are many more.

Teaching your children the importance of team work begins in the home, and it is more important than some might realize.

Authors Richard and Linda Eyre, put it this way: “The polar opposite of a sense of responsibility is a sense of entitlement! Kids who think they should have what they want, and have it now, and have it without working for it, are endemic in today’s society, and it is coming at the expense of their motivation, their education, their creativity, and ultimately their happiness. Children who are snared in the entitlement trap also cause a huge drain on the happiness of their parents!”

Parents, I have said it before and I’ll say it again. “If we don’t take the time to teach and nurture our children while they are young, we will be forced to care for them when they are adults.

Our goal as parents should be to prepare our children for real world experiences, and the home is the ideal place for this to occur.  Responsibility and work are real world experiences!



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